Phil Livingstone
Phil Livingstone 22 June 2016

Marketing in a Digital World

In today’s digital world, as the saying goes, the only constant is change. Change is both social (cultural and behavioural) as well as technical (from process and design to infrastructure and marketing). Digital is both a driver and an enabler for change.

As technology continues to evolve, so too does business.  Customers, punters, both you and me, are demanding it. In response, businesses have shifted to a world where collaboration and connection has replaced hierarchy and bureaucracy in order to grow and retain digitally savvy customers and consumers.

We have transformed to deliver products and services to a modern, connected ‘always on’ society that demand faster, better, device agnostic experiences regardless of sub brand, channel or brand touch point. 

 Whilst traditional media is still very important, you have to recognise that eyeballs are shifting away from TV to the Smartphone, the ability to not only capture a user's attention with a video, engage them with content, be present when they search and deliver experiences across multiple formats and devices is complex and requires informed decision-making, fast and personalised execution but more importantly robust reporting and embedded data analytics.

 Gartner recently talked about the rise of the “algorithmic business” and the “programmable economy”. As an industry, we are not there yet. The pace of technology advancement has outpaced the people that consume it. We need to catch up. Privacy laws, battery life, data storage, all behind the curve.

 Audience profiling and customer personas will help deliver marketing messages based on behaviour, geography, context, previous buying history, voice and even triggered by emotion and facial recognition. We use some of these techniques already but as the capability for this technology matures and becomes more transparent; the idea to target both customer and prospects through a combination of automated media buying, smarter algorithms and personalised messaging, really excites.

 Very quickly new models will be developed and powerful algorithms will support consumers when they browse, shop, trade, and make decisions. Modern marketing is data driven, automated and algorithmic but the future will quite possibly be robotic, virtual and continuous machine learning.

Realities are blending, from virtual reality to augmented reality. We are starting to see devices that allow you to step into these realities.

Strange to think but technology is becoming more human, with massive processing power as well as the ability for thought, emotion and speech, Robots are also becoming human (IBM’s Watson). Any surface around us has the potential to become a digital screen, an application, a means of communication. Interactions with computers, from voice to personal assistants (Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and more recently Amazon’s Alexa(Echo)) are just the beginning. We can now all be smug and confess to having a personal assistant!

 Seamless data transfers to the cloud between your home, your car and the device in your hand, on your wrist, under your skin, will sync your every being. Today’s technology is your window to the world, but tomorrow automated assistance technologies will help us make critical decisions, all supported by copious amounts of data. As consumer behaviour continues to evolve and is increasingly driven by technology, I believe advertisers should be adapting to these changes. Who knows, the tech giants of today might even form collaborative partnerships, integrating both hardware and software that paves the way for inoperability across devices in the future. We have to. Given the walled gardens of Facebook and Google, this might be tricky but exciting technology advances from Samsung, Amazon, and increasingly Microsoft and Tesla may reduce the reliance on the giants of today.

 So too will brands form strategic partnerships offering cloud based smart solutions to the masses. Imagine a world where an entire ecosystem - where partners, customers, possibly even competitors find themselves working side-by-side to solve problems and opening up new opportunities for growth (Sky’s £7m investment in DataXu (strategic move across addressable TV ads, programmatic mobile/display ) as well as Taboola’s content distribution partnership with MSN are good examples here).

 In a world where...

  • Driverless cars, connected, intelligent homes that can be controlled on devices remotely
  • Boilers, heating systems and household appliances let you know when parts are needed and what food you have remaining
  • Watches, wristbands and scanners monitor and report on your health and wellbeing
  • Virtual assistants deliver customer experiences through facial recognition and voice identification and emotion detection
  • Machine learning will dominate, constructing algorithms that can learn from and make predictions on data
  • Data is more valuable than the media it is displayed on

 In a data driven world, the improved ability to collect, securely store, sort, segment and deploy data is critical for our growth. Equally important is the ability to deliver marketing and communications messaging both at scale and within increased personalisation (hyper-targeting). Reducing costs, attracting as well as retaining key segments and improving the overall experience should be a strategic priority for all businesses (regardless of the brand touch point). Focussing on improving customer data and the ability to understand key audience characteristics is critical.

 Embracing powerful algorithms that allow the delivery of optimised messaging and relevant communications based on customer data. We should be constantly thinking about better ways to use digital analytics, optimisation, content, social and marketing automation.

 The ambition though, should be matched by our passion to succeed as well as the freedom to try new things. Freedom to fail is a key ingredient in a modern progressive company. So here’s to the next idea.  As they say in brainstorming sessions, no idea is a stupid one.

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